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Old 01-07-2015, 11:29 PM   #1
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Jul 2013
Location: Southern WI
Oddometer: 345
Christmas In The Ozarks

When I received my Christmas schedule from work I knew I had to find something to do. I had five days off and nothing planned. I couldn't stand the thought of sitting in the house hiding from the WI cold weather the whole time, so I grabbed a map and started looking for a place to go riding. I wanted to get far enough south that I wouldn't freeze, but not so far that I would spend too much time driving to get there. Missouri seemed to be a pretty good destination. I wanted to do some exploring, and to find some dirt and gravel. With just a few minutes of searching I settled in on the Mark Twain National Forest. It looked great, lots of forest roads, and every paved road was twisty and narrow, How could I go wrong? So I loaded up the bike and headed south.
After 8 hours of driving I ended up in a little town called Viburnum, MO. It is a one gas station, one motel kind of town. When I checked into the motel the lady tells me to take an extra door key and hide it under the door mat, because nobody will be around the whole week, and if I lock myself out of the room I am pretty much screwed.
She was right, I think I had to whole motel to myself the 4 nights I stayed. The room was decent enough, 2 queen beds, micro, fridge, WIFI, cable, and only $55 a night!
I got unloaded and settled in for the night with great expectations for the next days ride.
When I woke up and looked out the window, I was a little let down, it was snowing! Weatherman said a high of 38 for the day, so just hung out for a few more hours to see if it would warm up. It did, and off I went.
A few miles in and I came to the first creek crossing. I had heard horror stories of how slick these can be on the bottom, so I eased across not wanting to end up on my ass, in the cold water, with a cold ride back to the motel. It was no problem. Over the next few days I crossed dozens of these with no problems.

A few miles later I came across a pretty little cemetary. I didn't think much about it at the time, but noticed throughout the week that these little plots were scattered all over the place, and the were all very well taken care of.

After around 60 miles it started to snow, sleet, and rain on me so I headed for pavement and the shortest route back to the motel. I had some heated gear on, but my legs were getting kinda cold. On the way I came across this little lake. I thought it was a good place for a picture.

After this I found the pavement. I was not disappointed! It was smooth and twistie, just the way I like it, but with cold wet roads, and knobbie tires I didn't push it too hard. I made it back and feasted on a supper of roller dogs and chocolate milk from the Casey's general store across the street. Weatherman says 60 and sunny for the next days ride, sweet! Total miles for the day, only 82.

Weatherman was right! I woke up to sunny skies. It was still pretty chilly at 8:00 am (35), so I hung out for a little while and had a breakfast of Poptarts, giving it a little more time to warm up. Around 9:30 I hit the road. The great thing about riding on Christmas day, NOBODY else is around! I had the roads and sights all to myself.
First stop was Dillards Mill, just a few miles up the road from the motel. I had the whole place to myself, so I walked around for a half hour or so and took a few pictures. I was impressed with the crystal clear water.

The sun was out, and the roads were fantastic! Miles and miles of this.

My next destination was Akers Ferry. After an hour or so of riding I found it. Being it was Christmas, there was nobody around but that was fine, I didn't need to cross it anyways. After looking around a little bit I noticed some tracks crossing the river just down stream from the ferry. By the looks of it, most people just cross there, saving the $4 on the ferry.

After leaving the ferry I headed up K. It was a pretty steep climb up to a ridge that narrowed down enough to look off each side. On one side it looked over the Current river and some open fields.

Not far from here was what I was really excited to see. In one of Bigdogs posts he talked about a deserted hospital that was built over a spring, into the side of a hill. It was called Welch's Spring, and Deihls Hospital. Long story short, Dr. Deihl built it in the early 1900's to help himself and others with breathing problems. The thought was the clean, moist air from the spring coming up through the hospital cured what ailed ya. After some years, Dr Deihl passed away and his family took it over. It didn't last long due to the harsh travel conditions, and the lack of interest the family had in running it. Here's a link for the full story -

and pic-

It was really neat, and again I had it all to myself. I hung out for an hour or so just taking it all in. It was very peaceful hanging out and listening to the water rushing out of the cave/spring.
After I was rested up I hit the trails again. Next stop was Devils Well. It was pretty cool, but hard to get a decent picture. The mouth of the cave was gated off, but I couldn't have gotten in it anyways, it pretty much dropped straight down. I walked down as far as I could just to look it over.

By now I was getting tired and had to start heading back. Great roads, but nothing really picture worthy. I did get turned around a few times on some mine roads, but it was easy enough to find a way around.
Made it back to the motel. Tonights dinner was not exactly a traditional Christmas dinner, a Taco Pizza from the Casey's. Not traditional, but it sure hit the spot after goin all day on a Poptart. Back at the motel I enjoyed the movie marathon of the Christmas Story, one of my favorite movies! "Ralphie, you'll shoot your eye out!"
My bike was a little afraid of the dark (or the locals that kept driving up and looking at it), so I let her in for the night.
Days total 168 miles

The next days weather was a carbon copy of the day before. I had plans to meet up with fellow inmate Jowannab and his grandsons Mike, and Kyle. We met up in Steeleville, and after a short meet n greet we were off.

Jowannab had a map of the upcoming Rally Car race course that he wanted to check a few legs of it out, so away we went. We rode some great area! After a few hours of riding we thought we better stop for some fuel - for the bikes and ourselves so we headed into Potosi. After lunch we headed back towards Steeleville. About halfway back we said our goodbyes and split up. I followed a route I had put in my gps the day before, the rest of the way back to the motel. Lots more great dirt roads. Nothing but hills and streams.

I made it back to the motel just before dark, loaded the bike in the truck, and headed to Casey's to see what was for supper tonight. Ended up buying some tv dinners from the grocery store and put the microwave in the room to use. As you can tell, I am no health nut!
I ended up with a little over 400 miles in 2.5 days of riding. All I can say is the Mark Twain National Forest offers some some fantastic dual sport riding, and I WILL be back!
The only downfall of the trip, on my way home I managed to blow a head gasket on my truck, but hell, it was worth it!
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:12 AM   #2
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Mark Twain is a great area to explore, met some good ol boys most places I ride, but never had a theft problem. Glad you didn't wake up to banjo music.....
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Old 01-08-2015, 03:52 PM   #3
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Thanks for the nice RR!

You've just touched the tip of the iceberg in the Ozarks.
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by joenuclear View Post
Thanks for the nice RR!

You've just touched the tip of the iceberg in the Ozarks.
Yeah, I went through the Branson area this summer, and it was great, but I didn't get much time to explore. I would like to spend a couple weeks and stay at a different motel/town each night to see more of MO and Arkansas. If I only had a few days, I would just stay at the same motel and do day loops from there. It's such a nice area to ride. Most of our roads in southern WI are paved, so this was really a treat!
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:08 PM   #5
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cool bike
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:28 PM   #6
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Nice. Looks like a good area to explore.
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Old 01-09-2015, 12:39 PM   #7
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nice write up. I need to get down there someday for a few days and explore. and im guessing that the spring hospital stream has some nice trout in it
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Old 01-09-2015, 06:12 PM   #8
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Great stuff. I grew up in St. Louis and we spent a lot of our vacations in the Ozarks. We had a lot of relatives in the Potosi area and visited there a lot.

I have lived in New Mexico for over 45 years now and the riding is great out here too. But sometime I would really like to get back there.

Oh wait a minute we did go thru the southern part of that area on the TAT a few years ago.

The TAT had some really nasty creek crossings like your first picture - moss covered concrete. The moss was the killer. The best way thru was to hit it a little fast and then coast - no brake, no acceleration. I remember on the first one I missed a down shift in the middle. I don't know how I stayed up. Was on a KLR.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:06 PM   #9
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[QUOTE and im guessing that the spring hospital stream has some nice trout in it[/QUOTE]

I was thinking the same thing! There was a sign at the begining of the trail that said they were working on a program for trophy trout, and smallmouth bass.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:08 PM   #10
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[QUOTE] I have lived in New Mexico for over 45 years now and the riding is great out here too. But sometime I would really like to get back there. [QUOTE]

I did the TAT last summer. I really enjoyed New Mexico, but as you know the TAT barely runs through it. I would love to spend more time out there...any of the west really.
I did the same thing with the water crossings, just kinda coasted or idled through.
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:45 AM   #11
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Nice RR I rode that area 35 years ago, you reminded me I need to get back there. Thanks !
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:41 PM   #12
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Very nice, I try to hit the Ozarks a couple times a year either fishing or riding. If you ever get a chance rent a canoe or kayak and float the Current river from say Babtist Camp to Akers ferry. And yes there are trout on that stretch of the river.

Oh and stop by the Bixby general store, it's a required stop for riding in the Ozarks. East of Salem on 32.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:37 PM   #13
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Excellent! That's funny about the Motel. Sounds like that Hitchcock movie, ha!
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:44 PM   #14
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glad you enjoyed the area.
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Old 01-12-2015, 12:38 AM   #15
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Nice RR> Spent a little time riding down there a couple years back at about the same time of year. We had a little better luck with weather, 72 F. in Eureka Springs our first day ..Great place to ride street and dirt.
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